Monday, November 26, 2012

Mayes-- The Happiest of Hours

Happy Hour for Tea Time may not always mean a cuppa plus a scone this fall. Bring on the oysters, wine and fire at Mayes Oyster House on Polk street. We spent several very happy hours here, tasting their dollar oyster offerings. They have special prices from 5-7 every day (Sunday 5-9!). Yes, even weekends! Their drinks are worth it too, with house wine and champagne only $5 for a goblet. They offer discounted food as well as the $1 oyster platters.

Tea Time gets cozy by the fire!
Their oysters are good quality, and Mayes offered 3 types on their platter during this visit. Tea Time didn't catch the name of each, but they lived up to their descriptions. One set of 4 was sweet and delicate on the palate. Another was more briney with a hint of sea air drifting up from them. The middle ground was held up as well, by the third kind. All were a treat. A great splurge! These oysters came with your choice of three sauces to splash on your bivalve if you wanted to enhance it. If you're more of a purist there are also lemon wedges.

One dozen
Two dozen

Three! 36 oysters made up this Happy Hour feast.
We spent the time chatting, plotting and story telling with friends. It was worth every penny. Do you like raw seafood? Are you lucky enough to live somewhere that seafood is accessible and edible? Tea Time hopes to hit up a few more dollar oyster joints in this jukebox town, so stay tuned!

Aria Korean Snack Bar

On the way to The Macallan scotch tasting at the Regency Center (Sutter/Van Ness), Beth and I decided we'd better fill our stomachs with food before doing some serious drinking. She took the Geary bus, so I met her on Larkin Street and we ate at Aria, which has taken over the space formerly occupied by the Old Chelsea. (Does anybody know what happened to Old Chelsea?) Aria doesn't have a website, but it does have a Facebook page, and there are many positive reviews on the web.


A very nice man with limited English took our orders, and immediately set up our table with placemats, chopsticks, napkins and water.

I ordered the beef bibimbap with a small side of pickled radishes for $9.75. The meat is served on top of rice and bean sprouts, with carrots, mushrooms and eggs, and a small container of hot sauce.

Beth thought she was ordering kim chee on top of beef, but received a vegetarian meal for $8.95. If you want both, you have to be specific and order a side of kim chee. The gentleman asked me whether I wanted "big radish or little radish." I thought he was talking about two different kinds of radish, but it turned out he meant the size of the serving. The smaller size was more than enough for the two of us.

The food was delicious and filling and we'll definitely be going back to try the rest of the menu. It also enabled us to actually taste all the scotch we sampled. There was a presentation, trivia questions and samples of the 8, 10, 12 and 18 year bottles. The comparison was interesting and we both liked the 12 year old whisky best.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Leland Tea Company-afternoon tea

Tea Time Alert!
Leland Tea in SF is now closed. You can find Will and family down the road in Burlingame at Rue du The/Leland Tea.  We hope to see you there, it's just a quick trip on the Caltrain on highway...

It's Afternoon Tea Time again, and this week we're visiting Leland Tea Company. If you read Angela's Iron Cupcake post, this business may seem familiar as they host all SF Iron Cupcake Meetup events. This welcoming tea shop is in the Polk Gulch area of the city. We stopped in for tea on a sunny afternoon during the week and we seated ourselves while the owner finished with his customers. While we perused the menu more people stopped by to pick up tea packages for gifts and order tea to go. It's obvious that the family that owns this tea shop loves their business! Tea Time is so grateful for people who enjoy their jobs and it makes your own experience in their store that much more pleasant when their joy spills over.

For example, Angela went to place our order at the front; we chose the Tea for Two service and added 2 cupcakes for $1 each. The gentleman who took our order said with a wink, "No you can't order two cupcakes for $1 each, because it's a great day and I'm going to Give them to you. You can pay extra for them if you want." What a generous and fun place to have tea!

Our Tea for Two came with 2 sandwiches (ham/cheddar and tomato/brie), 2 scones (vanilla and chocolate chip), Romaine salad, fruit salad and our two cupcakes (vanilla and chocolate).  Our bottomless pot of tea was Ginger Tango which they blend in house using a variety of ingredients. Ginger, Hibiscus, Schizandra Berries, Licorice Root, Rosehips, and Orange Peel make this unforgettable blend of herbs and spices. Tea for Two does include a pot of the house blend tea, but Ginger sounded too delightful to miss.

Tea for Two
Chocolate Chip scone on left, Vanilla scone on right.
This salad had an addictive vinaigrette dressing we loved.
Sandwiches and fruit salad made with love by Mom.
Angela asked what the special occasion was, why they chose to give us the free cupcakes when we were served our tea tier. The reply was that every day deserved celebration and if he had to choose one thing for that day, it was that his Mom (the cook at Leland) was feeling better, her knee was no longer giving her pain. A good thing, we all agreed.

We ate our food and savored our tea, alternately chatting and listening to the family bustle and tea customers around us. Leland is a lovely shop, with dark wood and permanent paintings throughout. They also feature local artists on the walls as well. This visit we saw featured art inspired by SF neighborhoods, such as Chinatown and Protrero Hill.

The owner was happy to help set up this photo, arranging the tea on the table.
The small tins contain teas to smell, to help you choose what kind you feel like drinking that day.
Most of the tea shops we visit are one of a kind/independently owned local businesses. Leland takes that one step farther by keeping it all in the family, and you can feel the welcoming love, warmth and joy when you step inside their SF shop (they have also opened a second shop in Burlingame--road trip?). Leland Tea Company also specializes in Tea blends and they are willing to blend something special just for you, which will include packaging and personalized labels. Christmas is coming--hint!

Leland Tea Company welcomes you!
Tea Time is happy to share our discoveries with you, and we hope you'll send us any requests/discoveries of your own for us to check out. Our next afternoon tea visit will  be coming to you soon. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fall Luxury Salon in pictures

Here we are eating chocolate again! Tea Time is happy to share pictures from the 2012 Fall Luxury Chocolate Salon along with a little commentary. If you've been a loyal reader (please!) you know we have mentioned Meetup in past posts. In fact, that is how JK and Angela met, courtesy of the SF Bay Area Chocolate Meetup group. This year our group hosted a table at the Fall Salon where we quizzed people with chocolate questions and tried to entice them to join us in our quest for fun and chocolate.

The Fall salon is focused on gift giving for the holiday season (even if you're just giving chocolates into your mouth, that counts) allowing businesses to show off their fall flavors and featured gift boxes/sets.We don't have pictures of everyone, but we tried to get a good cross sampling of the variety available at this event, which in turn shows the niche businesses that spring up to fill your every food desire (dare we say 'need'). Enjoy!
We sold water as a fundraiser to buy chocolate for our next event.

Meetup! Come, join us!!

Rest your eyes on Silver Jewelry.

Just out of the picture, spin the wheel, 'wine' a prize!

We haven't tasted their pickles...
...but the jerky is Excellent.

Feve 24-piece box of beauty and flavor!

Feve won 3 Gold Awards at Salon.

Winner Gold- Top Toffee in Salon and Best Comfort Food/Snack.

Okay, don't take it away, I'll talk, I'LL TALK!

Food and conversation--Tea Time motto!
Mary, owner of Saratoga Chocolates is an inspiring business owner!

Jade Chocolates, Winner Gold- Best Flavored Chocolate Bar

Dressings, vinegars and flavored oils from Gourmet Blends.
Amano- tasting school.
Best in show dark chocolate/tie for Best in Salon Gold.
Sixth Course- 3 Gold Wins

Gold Winner- Most Luxurious Chocolate Experience (Tie).

A specialty market niche filled- Claire's Florentines!
That seaweed popcorn, YUM!

Such cuteness and creativity!!

Happiness is Aloha and Plumeria Flours.

Socola- Gold for Top Artisan Chocolate and New Product.

Butterfly Brittle- a wide variety of brittle flavors, to satisfy your tastebuds.

Gold Best Traditional Chocolate.

The Chocolate craving crowd served by CocoTutti.

Smitten Artisan Truffles had an unique approach, sampling the filling. Salted Caramel, yum!

 Yes, a chocolate fountain!
Gold Winner for best presentation/packaging of chocolates. 
Snake and Butterfly, beautiful and tempting.

Tea infused chocolates-nice!

Gold Winner Best Milk Chocolate/bar.
The smiley Toffeeology Trio. Farm Fresh to You Co-op in the far back right.

Toffee-the best of all worlds.
Great presentation of product.

You can learn more about the medal winners of the Fall 2012 Luxury Salon here, just click on the medallion for this event. Guests to this salon were treated to something for everyone, from popcorn to jerky to jalapeno flavored chocolates. We will be sharing some posts about vendors from this event with a product that inspired us, as well as more about the speakers who shared their chocolate wisdom to standing room only crowds.


You may not live near a chocolate salon, but you Can make a chocolate event happen. If you join a Meetup group in your town (or get a group of friends/family) and simply pitch the idea of a Chocolate Potluck. This is a free event (unless you pay to rent the venue) where members/people make/bake/cook/buy their favorite chocolate themed food. It could even be chocolate milk, or chocolate beer. Angela likes to find something savory to make, once it was ribs with a chocolate bbq sauce sprinkled with seaweed/cocoa nibs. Hmmm, maybe it's time to cook those again.